Sunday 30 October 2011

Heil Merkel!

I wrote at the end of my most recent post on the European Union that I was utterly tired of my country being held hostage to German history. I had already hinted, in discussion with Chris Coffman, that this was something that I intended to write about more fully.

Botheration – my lightning has been stolen! Well, a bolt or two has been taken from the armoury by one Sir James Pickthorn, whose letter on the present mad muddle over the euro was published by the Daily Telegraph on Friday. I think I shall allow the parfit, gentil knyght to speak for himself;

The words of Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, summoning the spectre of war if the euro is not saved show how out of date the European project is. The idea that France and Germany will restart the
[Franco]-Prussian War, the Great War or Second World War is ridiculous. The message of these wars was and is that countries like being sovereign, and that democracy and free trade are valid ideals.

It isn’t an entirely new suggestion, of course, that we either have European integration or we have a German invasion of Poland. I’ve come across it several times before. I heard that tired old frump Shirley Williams, the moth-eaten Grand Dame of the Liberal Democrats, trot out the Europe or war formula. I came across it also in reading Edward Heath, Philip Ziegler’s biography of the wretchedly incapable prime minister who took Britain into Europe in the first place.

Williams and Heath belonged to a generation of post-war cowards, people who betrayed this country because they were afraid of Germany, afraid of the German past, afraid that a German past might very well be a European future without the discipline of a trans-national super state. They were, if you like, the deeper appeasers. Always they lacked the intelligence to see that old quarrels had been superseded by new global realities, or that Germany, having taken a bad road twice, the second time at such cost, was never going to take it again.

So Britain was seduced into the European ‘ideal’ by fear of Germany, by an act of abject moral and political cowardice that did not stop from hiding the full implications for national sovereignty in our accession to the Treaty of Rome. We have to go in, you see; otherwise the German wolf might get us. It was a fairy-tale for children. Yes, that’s exactly how I see Europe – a fairy tale for children. And always keep a-hold of Brussels nurse for fear of finding Berlin worse.

But if Heath and the like were afraid of the Big Bad Wolf of German revanchism the Germans were even more afraid of the Big Bad Wolf of German revanchism, judging by the words of that daft diva, Merkel – it’s Europe or it’s war; it’s the mad design of the euro or a mad design on Poland.

Where the evidence for this bogus historical nightmare comes from I’ve not the faintest idea but I am absolutely sick and tired of the damage it has done to my country, to our sovereignty and to our ancient political liberties. I become increasingly convinced that this nation was betrayed by Heath & Co, people who looked for guidance in the tea leaves at the bottom of the cup of history, only to find their own stupid reflections in the dregs.

I used to believe, a la David Cameron, that it would be possible to renegotiate the devil’s bargain concluded by Heath: that some restoration of sovereignty was possible in the repatriation of powers.

Things have gone too far for that; Europe is a bally, bloody mess which I personally want no part of, a mess politically and a mess economically. Let them get on with their own crazy projects, turning Greece into an outpost of the Fourth Reich, the Reich of complete mediocrity, hocking the Continent to China.

I sincerely hope in the course of my lifetime to see this nation take the bold move and get out altogether, which I feel would be the people’s choice if the people were allowed a choice. If that means that Germany will turn rapacious eyes east the Oder, too bad; that’s something that I shall just have to live with, that and the prospect of Adolf Merkel.


  1. Have a Great Samhain Eve Ana! The veil between worlds is thin now.

  2. Very interesting post, Ana.
    I never thought about European Union as a German plot.

  3. The English are basically 'Germans' but seem to have forgotten this 'Indisputable Fact'. There will be Teutonic Order, or do you prefer the alternative? count the minarets my Dear.

  4. "Yes, that’s exactly how I see Europe – a fairy tale for children."

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  6. I believe that the original Common Market, as it was then called, was constructed out of a fear of a further war, and the recent one was still all too fresh in people's memories. When I was growing up in the 1950s, "the War" dominated conversation among the adults, but the prospects for war in Europe are now nonexistent. As for Shirley Williams, she has far worse to answer for than vacuous comments on Europe (comprehensive education).

    And you're right about the feelings of ordinary people: I rarely meet anyone who thinks that the EU is a good idea, although if it had remained merely a "common market" then it might have been OK.

  7. Some years ago I was on holiday in Austria. The young woman running the Gasthof near Salzburg was interested in politics, studying medicine and spoke excellent English. She didn't like Germans, Hungarians or Romanians; had no time for Italians and thought the French could never be trusted.

    By yoking these disparate peoples in "ever closer union", the EU is stoking the fires it is credited (by some people) with putting out.

    PS. She thought the English were great - probably because we were a long way away!

  8. Nice post, although I'm afraid I disagree with you to some extent about the either/or fears about Big Europe versus Big War in Europe. But I agree with you that Germany is becoming dominant.

    I've long thought that the EU was merely the old big European imperial project with the French and Germans cooperating, for a change, instead of one of them making a go of trying to absorb the continent forcibly on their own.

    I think after WWII the smaller European countries understood that placating the French and Germans by letting them together create the big Europe they've always wanted legally, instead of by force, might at least avoid a devastating continental war every 50-70 years. Behind all the EU gloss and hype about markets, I think that was the bottom line in the thinking. The EU was a necessary evil to keep the powers busy with the illusions of continental dominance and yet at peace.

    Now it looks like France is giving way and Germany is starting to dominate the EU by way of bail-outs. For years, I expected one of the powers in the EU would start to dominate the collective and now here we are. That's actually a really bad sign, but inevitable. The real question is what the Russians are doing about it.

    Have global conditions changed to such a degree that inside Europe there is a new alternative to the old options of a neo-Roman-Empire, a Big War, or a crazy quilt of little countries? Sadly, as far as the continent goes, I don't think so.

    One glance at the history says that this has been the story of Europe for centuries and centuries, not just the XX century. Global conditions have changed, but the Europeans have not diverged much from their ancient patterns. There is a fourth alternative - the Europeans move outward in an imperial push and project their authoritarian impulses and ideologies outwards. In the past that kept the peace in Europe to some extent, and pushed the conflicts into the global periphery.

    I guess smaller European countries could try to work with the global community, rehashing that post-WWI idealized 'community of nations' formula. But it didn't work then, not sure it would work now, even with new technologies.

    The questions of who will harness technology to alter the evolution of governments, states and nations and how they will do it are still obscure. Tech may atomize state systems and national cultures, or it may encourage the formation of 5-6 big imperial powers in the world. But whatever - this is all just speculative. Thanks for a thought-provoking post - fascinating reading.

  9. Nice article Anna, however I have to say that renegotiation never was possible as, leaving aside the fact that competences once passed to Brussels will not be returned, were the UK to get even partial repatriation of any area of competence, the queue of Member States wanting the same would result in the disintegration of the EU.

    Do turkeys vote for Christmas?

  10. Anthony, I did, thank you. I'm about to post on that shortly.

    On the antecedents, I'm much more Norman-French.

  11. Harry, not so much a German plot as a German nightmare!

  12. Michele, thank you. :-) Look out for The Raft of the Europa, an article I will be posting tomorrow. It's based on a painting called The Raft of the Medusa, which I'm sure you know about!

  13. Dennis, it gets worse by the day. There are forms of absurdity in this that might very well have defied even the pen of the great Jonathan Swift. Some things really are beyond satire.

  14. Michael, our more perfect union. I really do have to laugh for fear of the alternative.

  15. ToB, and thank you for a fascinating and thought-provoking response. I certainly think De Gaulle saw the original Common Market as the beginnings of a new Napoleonic imperium, with Germany no more than a junior partner, the Westphalia of Brother Jerome!

  16. Franks and Normans, Germanic tribes.

  17. As an Englishman, I am rather enjoying watching the French hopping from hot coal to hot coal, as their EU racket unravels. That is all the EU is, a French racket to keep the French in the style they think they are entitled to.

  18. Anthony, wider and wider still. :-)

  19. Michael, keep your eye on Greece. Did you know that one of their national holidays is called No Day? That's true - 28 October, the day in 1940 when General Metaxas, then prime minister, rejected an ultimatum from Mussolini to allow Italian troops on the Greek soil with one word Ohi - No. Now the people themselves have a chance for a second No Day.